📚Noisy Deadlines

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."- Douglas Adams

  1. Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It by Ethan Kross, 272p (AUDIO): A good advice I got from this book is to use the third person voice to address my thoughts: “Hey, do you think worrying like that is useful at all? It’s better to focus on the here and now.”

  2. Salute the Dark (Shadows of the Apt #4) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 459p: It’s war. The Wasp Empire advances, some win some lose. This book is full of action, dramatic battles and has the best romantic duo fight ever.

  3. Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold (Stephen Fry's Great Mythology #1) by Stephen Fry, 416p (AUDIO): Excellent audiobook! Stephen Fry did a great job putting all those myths together and his storytelling is great. It was a delight to listen to it.

  4. Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries #6) by Martha Wells, 168p: this series is so cozy to my brain. I enjoy following this artificial construct thought process. And this one has a murder mystery. How not to love?

#readinglist #books #reading


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

  1. A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1) by Amanda Bouchet, 441p: A kind of “enemies-to-lovers” romance where the heroine isn’t helpless (for the most part). The magic doesn’t follow too many rules or limitations making the heroine unbelievable powerful. I had fun!

  2. Death Masks (The Dresden Files #5) by Jim Butcher, 432p: I think this one was more self-contained with fewer plot lines going on at the same time (as usually was the case with previous books). I love this series and will keep on reading.

  3. Unconquerable Sun (The Sun Chronicles #1) by Kate Elliott, 528p: The idea/premise seemed good (Female Alexander the Great in Space!) but I think the execution lacked focus. There were 2 major points of view: Sun was third person and Persephone was first person. Each chapter had a different POV and sometimes I had a hard time discerning which character was talking. Although Sun was the main character, Persephone (in the first-person narrative) was way more interesting. The book felt a bit longer than it should be and the amount of world-building info dump bothered me at times. I was not excited to continue reading the series.

  4. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, 400p: As always, full of interesting insights. We are doomed!

  5. The Complete Maus (Maus #1-2) by Art Spiegelman, 296p: I wanted to read a Graphic Novel and my partner told me about this one. It’s really good! But it’s sad. I caught myself in tears in many moments while I was reading. It’s not an easy topic (Nazism and the story of a Polish Jew who survived Auschwitz concentration camp). Extremely touching. We cant’ forget this horror as to not repeat it again, ever.

#readinglist #books #reading


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I love to track my reading. I used to have a simple list on Excel, but when I heard about Goodreads back in January 2012 I moved all my tracking to it. That was exactly the same time I started e-reading on my first Kindle, so I found a cool community online of fellow readers. It was great back then! Book nerds talking about books, online book clubs, and reading challenges. I can say Goodreads helped me build up my reading habit. But then… Goodreads was acquired by Amazon in 2013. I was already using Amazon’s Kindle so that that didn’t bother me at the time. I was living in Brazil and Amazon was the only place I could have access to e-books in English (cheaper than buying imported books in English).

After using Kindle e-readers and Goodreads for 9 years, I decided to move away from Amazon’s e-book empire. I upgraded to a Kobo device and started searching for other book tracking sites out there. I took a look into:

  1. Libib

  2. The Storygraph

  3. Library Thing

I excluded sites that were too social-media-oriented. I wasn’t looking for the social media aspect, I just wanted to track my books, set up reading challenges, have a nice interface, and stats. Also, a way to import all my data from Goodreads. I chose The Storygraph!

Why I chose The Storygraph:

  • It imports the Goodreads data pretty well. I had to do a few tweaks because some editions were different from the ones I had in Goodreads. That wasn’t the case with the other sites I tried, in which the data was not imported correctly and I would need to spend time figuring out what went wrong and fixing it myself.
  • The Storygraph was created by Nadia Odunayo and her team who made the decision to not make it a social media site. There are no notifications, no “like” buttons, no discussions. You can follow other readers if you want to (like me), but nobody knows who follows who, no followers counts, so no social competitive streaks.
  • No ads. It’s simple and clean (just like Write.as 💚).
  • It brings in-depth stats about the books with nice graphs: per genre, length, dates, mood, pace, and more).
  • Up-next feature: you can add 5 books from your “to-read” pile to show up first. I like to have handy a small list of books I want to read next so I can decide quicker, so I loved this feature!
  • Customizable challenges: you can create your own reading challenges.
  • It’s free to use. But you can support the creators and get extra book recommendations features.
  • All data can be exported.

Statistical Data

The Review process has some different characteristics. You can leave a written review and stars as you’d normally do in Goodreads for example, but you can also add statistical data to a book, with things like:

  • Mood: adventurous? funny? mysterious? lighthearted? tense? emotional? reflective? etc.
  • Pace: Fast, Medium, Slow
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix, Plot-driven, Character-driven.
  • Strong character development? Yes, No, It's complicated, N/A.
  • Loveable characters? Yes, No, It's complicated.
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes, No, It's complicated, N/A.
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes, No, It's complicated, N/A.
  • Content warnings: you can add warnings if there are graphic, moderate, or minor levels of certain content (like sexual content, death, violence, gore, etc).
  • Rating: the usual 5-star ratings, allowing for half-star and quarter-star ratings.

So for all the books in its database, you can see these statistical data. I particularly like the information about “Pace” and “Mood” which have been helping me choose my next book to read.

You can also perform searches using all those data points.

I’ve been enjoying it because there are no distractions, the focus is on the books. There is an app for mobile which I use daily to track my reading progress.

I’m still thinking about what to do with my Goodreads account. I haven’t decided yet. There are a couple of groups I check out from time to time in Goodreads. And Goodreads is still the biggest book database out there. The Storygraph sometimes doesn’t have accurate information on a series of books and I read that its team is working constantly to update the database.

Should I delete Goodreads? Or leave it as a backup?

One thing is for sure, I’ll stop tracking my reading on Goodreads.

#reading #trackers #TheStorygraph #Goodreads #books


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

On the left: new Kobo – On the right: Old Kindle

My Old Kindles

After using Kindle e-readers and Goodreads for 9+ years, I decided to move away from Amazon’s e-book empire. I’ve had 2 Kindles in my life: the 6” 4th Generation (2012) and the 6” Kindle Paperwhite 1 – 5th Generation (2013). At the time I got my first Kindle, back in Brazil, there weren’t too many options available. I wanted to read books in English and Amazon was the only service I could access back then. Amazon was convenient.

At some point along the way, I heard about Rakuten Kobo, a Canadian e-reader/e-books focused company (now also owned by a Japanese group). There was also Barnes and Noble with their Nooks and even a Brazilian publisher with their locally produced e-readers. But the access to the huge Amazon’s e-books catalog was unrivaled back then. My Kindle Paperwhite worked fine throughout all those years. Sometimes it froze, true, but nothing that a soft (and long) reset couldn’t solve. I tend to use my devices (be it e-readers or mobile phones) up until they become useless due to lack of support or just stop working. There are some exceptions in which I just want a better device.

My first 2 Kindles (Left: 4th Generation 2012 | Right: Paperwhite 1 – 5th Generation 2013)

Over the years I grew leerier and leerier of Amazon’s power and influence. Not to mention the accounts of their underpaid and over-exploited employees. Since my Kindle was almost 10 years old and it started to lag more than usual, I finally made the jump out of Amazon’s grasp.

Read more...

For some reason, August was a hard month for reading. I try to find time for reading in the morning, before work, or after work. Sometimes I can read a little during my lunch break. But on some days I was too exhausted to read before bed. Or I was too distracted. It was hard to read this month! I started an audiobook (Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry), and even that was hard for me to focus on (it is a long audiobook about Greek mythology, so I’ll take my time).

Also, I’ve decided to leave Amazon’s e-book empire and did some research on other e-reading devices/systems. I chose to get a Kobo e-reader and I’m loving it so far. It integrates seamlessly with the Ottawa Public Library system, so cool! And since I’m abandoning Amazon, Goodreads will probably be the next one to go… More on that in a future post…🧐

The two books I read this month were part of my local Book Club discussions. Two opposites, I loved one and the other one was “bleh…”, but I’m glad I experienced it. I almost finished Book #5 of The Dresden files, so that will go on the next month’s list.

  1. Blood of the Mantis (Shadows of the Apt #3) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 429p: This series keeps getting better. It was nice to follow the characters to different places. We get to know Solarno (in Spiderlands), Jerez (a black market city, with a mysterious lake), and Szar (a Bee-Kinden city). I loved the  Pilots of the Exalsee, a type of aviators club/group with their own code of honor and obviously against The Empire. The plot revolves around the search for the Shadow Box and who gets it. Now that I know who got it, I gotta keep on reading the series to find out what the box actually does! (hint: obviously some evil things)

  2. The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford, 368p: This is a complicated book. I know some people who loved it, some people who didn’t. I can see why it is loved because of the historical references and it has become a classic. It's an alternate history with vampires (written in the '80s), and maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I was a little more knowledgeable about the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century. To be honest, I lost interest in the characters at about 60%. There were random scenes happening here and there that seemed to be out of place to me. It was hard to follow the passage of time in this book. The writing is very polished, and the author leaves a lot of action and descriptions to the reader's imagination. using metaphors. Even actions are only hinted at, so it's a book that you gotta work it in your brain to get it, I guess.

#readinglist #books #reading


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

  1. Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone, 480p: This is a very imaginative book and it pushes boundaries between sci-fi and fantasy. I think it's a fantasy disguised as sci-fi. There are cool elements like the order of the cyborg monks, the pilots of Orn, The Cloud, and Zang, the Pirate Queen (who was my favorite character). There were some downsides that kept me from enjoying it more, like: the overuse of metaphors/imagery: descriptions were too abstract most of the time for my brain to picture locations and even character appearance; some incomprehensible action scenes: I had difficulty visualizing and understanding what was happening; there were no clear rules for the world: what were the limits of space travel? how things and people could change sizes and shapes? I couldn't see a sense of threat in the story. Nobody seemed to be in real danger because everyone was so overpowerful, including The Empress. So, I feel like I should have been enjoying it more than I have. The premise was cool, but I felt it was overdone and got lost in the abstract world too much.

  2. Summer Knight (The Dresden Files #4) by Jim Butcher, 379p: Serious things happening in the Faerie land between the Summer and the Winter court. We get to know more about the White Council and the other wizards. Someone (that we were sure was dead) is not dead! It's nice to see that the writing on this book feels more mature, and Harry Dresden continues to grow as a strong wizard. He's more powerful than we are led to believe in the first books. It's a really good series and one that I'll keep on reading.

  3. Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World by Maryanne Wolf, 272p: Do we read more deeply with physical books? That's one of the conclusions of this book, and I wasn't so convinced by it. I think reading on a mobile device, a tablet, or on a computer is totally different from reading using an e-reader with e-ink technology. The author discusses research that pointed out the importance of the “physicality” of books, the shape, the visual sense of how many pages there are in the book, and how all those cues are important for reading. There are interesting discussions on how technological native children will develop their reading skills. Are they going to be able to read long books? And get a deep understanding of the contents and ideas? Or the way they consume digital information will make them shallow readers? As an avid e-reader myself, I don't think there is a difference between reading a physical book and an e-book in terms of the level of understanding. The environment and distractions around me are a better indicator of how much I'm engaged in the reading. This book started a good discussion about the future of reading. And how our brains might change or adapt to different mediums.

  4. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, 188p (AUDIO): Lovely memoir with an inspiring take on exercise, specifically, a running life. This book was insightful and fun but it also talks about the downsides of his running life. His failures and pains. And what happens in his mind when he runs:

“The thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky.”

I like to run, but I'm not what Murakami would consider a “serious runner” who runs 6 miles a day, 6 days a week. Maybe someday I'll get there. The goal is to keep on moving, bit by bit every day.

#readinglist #books #reading


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I’ve been successfully cultivating the habit of running regularly. I try to run every day unless it’s raining (not a fan of running in the rain) or I have an unavoidable appointment. It usually happens sometime after 5:30 pm.

I run the same 5K path every day. And I started to notice the flowers along the way. There are always new flowers appearing here and there, new colors flourish, small flowers turn bigger, flowers mingled with green. I don’t think I ever that much attention to flowers before. I especially love the tiny ones.

#summer #flowers


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I started listening to audiobooks this month. I still prefer reading fiction the old-fashion way using my eyes (with a slight touch of technology with an e-reader) but I’m okay listening to non-fiction. Especially now that I started using my public library to listen to books. I had fun with Harry Dresden and powered through the honker that is Dragonfly Falling. All worth it!

  1. Grave Peril (The Dresden Files #3) by Jim Butcher, 378p: Stakes are higher for Harry Dresden on this book. Innocent people die, more than I've seen in previous books. Overly powerful ghost demons, sorcerers, and vampires. We learn there are 3 types of vampires in this world and what are their differences. They ended up being way more powerful than I thought. Harry Dresden also shows some wicked powers. It's pure action fun, with supernatural stuff going on.

  2. Adventures in Opting Out: A Field Guide to Leading an Intentional Life by Cait Flanders, 272p: This was a perfect book to consume in audio form. I listened to it in the mornings and I enjoyed its friendly tone. It made me feel good about my life choices because it touches on how it is important for us to build our own unique lives, without caring about “societal norms”. Each one of us will choose a different path, and that's okay. I liked it because it is a memoir filled with hiking references. It's beautifully written and such a feel-good read.

  3. Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt #2) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 689p: Lots of things going on in this book because the War has come and the main characters are all scattered in different cities trying to defend themselves from the Wasp Empire advance. It's rich with battle scenes and military strategy discussions. And I was not bored by it. Thalric continues to be that complex lawful-evil character turned lawful-neutral. Totho makes a sacrifice that is probably changing his alignment. It's war and people die. All the characters go through the process of growing up, caught in a reality that is much harsher and more violent than they've ever imagined. They are not students anymore, it's the real deal.

  4. Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind by Annaka Harris, 144p: This is very meta. We are conscious. But what does it mean? How does it feel to be conscious? Why do we feel we are conscious? Are trees conscious as well? What about rocks? What about atoms? What is the hard problem of consciousness? It's a book full of interesting questions. Perfect for a wandering mind.

#readinglist #books #reading


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

Overconsumption. I veered off the path of excess consumption of material goods a few years ago. Minimalism was my tool for that. I like the definition given by The Minimalists:

Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

Noticing objects and material stuff around us is easy. It’s visible. We can plan decluttering sessions and visibly see space getting created. Now, what about intangible stuff? Information? Thoughts? Memories? Worry?

I don’t have excess material possessions anymore. Everything I have is enough and fills my needs. That doesn’t mean I live with less than 100 items, it just means I have what I consider is enough for myself and my lifestyle. It’s not about restrictions, it’s about eliminating the superfluous.

But I’ve been consuming and accumulating a lot of digital stuff over the years: hundreds of clipped articles on Evernote, guides and manuals I never read, RSS feeds from dozens of sites, articles to read saved on Instapaper or Pocket, dozens of newsletters cluttering my inbox, social media feeds.

It took a while, but I opted out of many of those digital things and now I think I have only what is meaningful to me:

  • I subscribe to 5 newsletters now, having unsubscribed from dozens in the past months. This amount is not overwhelming to me right now. It feels manageable.
  • I cancelled my Instapaper subscription. I had this idea that I would build a digital library with my notes and all the articles I read over time. I realized it was not important to me. I had more articles than I had time to read them. And the list of unread articles made me feel anxious. So I decided not to collect articles anymore. I much rather read a book.
  • I unsubscribed from dozens (if not hundreds) of RSS feeds. I kept 5 blogs and 1 comic strip (Dilbert) that I still enjoy reading once in a while.
  • I don’t use Evernote anymore. It was too easy to just collect stuff. If I want to take notes I use Standard Notes. Creating > collecting.
  • I stopped listening to a few podcasts. From a list of 15+ podcasts I was subscribed to, I decided to stick with 5 of them. And I don’t feel obliged to listen to all of them. I look at the feed and decide if it is an episode that interests me, otherwise, I just delete it.
  • I stopped using social media.
  • I cut down the time I spent watching YouTube. I still enjoy some science-related channels, but since I stopped using social media, I don’t feel the pull to go to YouTube anymore.
  • I still read books. That’s one type of information that energizes me. And opting out of all the other forms of digital consumption gave me more time to enjoy reading.

I've simplified many aspects of my life already. Little things like creating a uniform for myself (black pants and a shirt) to go to work make it super easy to get dressed up. I don't waste energy in the morning choosing this or that fashion trend. It’s liberating. Same thing with my breakfast: I eat the same meal every day. It's automatic: I prepare my omelet in the morning and that's it.

I feel like I have more headspace now. It’s a subtle change, but it’s there. Things are slowing down in my mind. I don't crave newsfeeds anymore. On the contrary, I cringe when I see any type of random automated endless newsfeed now. I feel calmer. I feel like I can make decisions. Even the smallest ones were hard for me at times: What should I choose from the sandwich menu? Which phone call should I make first? Which book should I read? What do I want for dinner? It’s all clearer now.

I've regained my love of reading. And my ability to read for long hours. There is space now!

#noisymusings #journal #minimalism


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

Tomorrow I’ll be back to working at the office full time. I’ve been working from home since April 5th, 2021 now. And before that, it was 30 days at home in January/February. So it was a total of 86 days working from home in 2021 or almost 60% of the total days.

I don’t hate working from home, on the contrary, I think it’s refreshing. Maybe if I lived someplace bigger with a dedicated office to work on, I would say I could never go back to a corporate office environment again. But the industry I work in doesn’t really appreciate remote work. On the contrary, my company believes that remote work can’t and will never build “the corporate culture”. They’ve given the employees the means to work from home during the worst of the pandemic when we were in lockdown. But deep down, most managers deeply hated it.

After the first lockdown period, where everybody was working from home, the senior managers of my company decided that they can’t do it, so they came back to the office. So for a long time they were the “skeleton crew” at the office while the rest of the team was at home, trying to deal with all the challenges that this new arrangement brought. I mention this because, for some period of time when schools and daycares were closed, it was painful to watch my co-workers trying to be in a meeting with their kids wanting their attention. Everybody was stressed, nobody could keep the same productivity levels, and still, the senior managers were demanding the same level of compromise. For them, the world was normal. They were quietly working in their individual offices, not having to face the working-from-home challenge.

And now I’m getting back to the office. I got the first dose of the COVID vaccine already, and the company is keeping all the restrictions to avoid the spread of the virus (rapid testing 3x/week, mandatory use of masks, virtual meetings). That’s not the issue. I just wasn’t expecting it to happen tomorrow, and I felt extremely anxious about it. It’s like I’m being forced out of my cocoon. Maybe I thought this process would be more gradual, like working a few days at home then a few days at the office, until all came back to “normal”.

There is something about this situation that bothers me: the fact that there will be no openness to “occasional” remote work after we get back to working “normally” at the office. I think in some industries there have been discussions over having flexible working arrangements from now on. And I think that is a cool option to have. I don’t think that is going to happen within my company.

I’ve developed some habits that help me cope with stress, like meditating early in the afternoon or whenever I feel something triggered me, taking 15 minutes breaks to read a book, or just stopping and breathing some fresh air on my balcony.

I’m wondering how am I going to keep these habits at the office. It seems harder over there. Meditating? Pfff… I’ll probably have to use the lady’s room. We’ll see!

#noisymusings #work #anxiety


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

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